Donadoni and Branco, 1994
History of Metro at the World Cup
June 4, 2014

The World Cup rosters are out, so let's do what we do every four years: recap the history of every Metro player at the World Cup. We originally did it in 2006 and then revisited in 2010, but let's start from scratch this time around.

1982

MLS is more than a decade from being conceived, but a plucky 21-year-old named Lothar Matthaus plays for West Germany, including the infamous 1:0 victory over Austria where the two teams played keep-away for 80 minutes to assure advancement to the next round. Germany makes it all the way to the final, losing to Italy, but the future Metro doesn't appear past the group stage.

1986

Matthaus returns, as West Germany makes it to the final again, where it loses to Argentina. This time, Lothar plays in every match, and even scores a late winner against Morocco in the Round of 16. A second future Metro makes his World Cup debut: Branco, who plays in all of Brazil's five games.

1990

After two runner-up finishes, Matthaus is a winner, captaining West Germany to the World Cup, taking revenge over Argentina in the final. He scores four goals, one of them on a penalty to beat Czechoslovakia in the quarterfinals. Branco returns for Brazil, but they only make it to the Round of 16. More future Metros pop up: Roy Myers plays one game for Costa Rica, Ruben Dario Hernandez does the same for Colombia, and then there is Roberto Donadoni. The Maestro features for the hosts all the way to the semifinals, where he is the first Italian to miss in the penalty shootout during the loss to Argentina.

Of course, there is also the US, making its World Cup return after 40 years in the wilderness. Their sojourn in Italy is nothing to write home about, but the future Three Tenors: Tony Meola, Tab Ramos, and Peter Vermes play in all three matches. Marcelo Balboa does is well (alas, his five minutes qualify him as a Metro). Brian Bliss features in one, but Chris Henderson doesn't make it off the bench.

1994

The World Cup is on US soil, MLS will kick off in two years, and the American roster is full of future Metros. Meola, topped with a hideous ponytail, is back, and so are Balboa and Ramos. Alas, Tab's World Cup is ended prematurely with a vicious elbow to the head by Brazil's Leonardo. Others on the US team include Thomas Dooley, the red clown Alexi Lalas, Claudio Reyna (who, as a sign of things to come a decade later, can't get off the bench), and Mike Sorber.

Colombia, one of World Cup's biggest disappointments, features two future Metros: Antony De Avila (El Pitufo), and Adolfo Valencia (El Tren). In fact, the latter makes way for the former in Colombia's lone win against Switzerland. Valencia does score twice, including the forgotten goal in the 2:1 loss to the US. Joining Balboa on the list of players we were sorry to see in Metro colors is Jaime Moreno, who, in his pre-fat state, played for Bolivia.

Matthaus is back for his fourth go-around, but unified Germany is upset by Bulgaria in the quarterfinal played at Giants Stadium, in which Lothar scores on a penalty. The final sees two future Metros face off: Branco and Donadoni, with the Brazilian crowned the winner. He also scores on a brilliant free kick in the quarterfinals versus the Netherlands, and tallies in the shootout that followed the drab 0:0 final.

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